Friday 28 October 2016

Ben Te'o: I'm open to playing for Ireland

Leinster centre also open to the idea playing for Ireland

Ben Te'o, Leinster
Ben Te'o, Leinster

The home of champions has more resembled a house of horrors this season.

The revolving door of players to international rugby, the operating table and the treatment room have been troublesome for Matt O'Connor.

At times, it has been a nightmare for Ben Te'o as he has become reacquainted with a code he had not played for ten years.

"I've found that the way things are set up here it's quite different," he said.

"I came into the team and then you've guys disappearing for Six Nations, they went very well.

"Then you've got guys coming back with bumps and bruises, Europe, Pro12, you're resting guys - 'he can't play, because he's played too much' or 'he's injured'.

"It's always the team chopping and changing."

It can't be what Ben Te'o signed on for when he made a move from Rugby League to Union.

He must have imagined there would be days like his last in League when the South Sydney Rabbitohs were crowned National Rugby League champions.

"It's been a bit of a rollercoaster for me, getting here, breaking my arm, working my way back and really what I needed was game time," he reported.

"I started to get some game time and was lucky enough to play in some big games, Bath and Toulon and it's all fallen apart towards the end.


"Unfortunately, we can't go for the Pro12 final, but, for me personally, it's been a big move and I'm happy with how I've adjusted so far.

"I still think I've a lot to work on but I've realised that changing habits at an older age is quite tough as well."

There is the sense of a man finding his feet in the game and, also, tentative about the journey leading to international rugby for Ireland.

"I really haven't even thought about that," said the holder of an English passport.

"I don't even know the rules or how the eligibility works. I have to see. I'm open to a lot of things. If I'm good enough, I would love to play. Everyone wants to play in the big games and the international scene is the biggest spectacle in rugby.

"You'd love to do it. If someone thinks you're good enough to do it, yeah, why not?"

While the man-on-man, straight-up hitting of League is all about wrapping up man and ball, Te'o has had to lower his sights.

"Defensively, how my tackle technique has been honed over the years - changing it to rugby, in terms of chopping lower and that sort of stuff.

"In terms of running the ball, presenting the ball, those are things that just need a bit more time.

"I've just been learning a lot, all the time I'm learning something new."

It is this need to learn, to improve and to understand a game that has moved on from the last time he played as a teenager.

"I've come a long way, but what I can do with a break and a really good pre-season, get in tune with my body and skill-set, come back and next year is when I can prove what I can really do."

That's right. There is more to come.

So much more.

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